Benjamin: King Saul/Saint Paul/Jonathan/Mordecai , The Empty Vessel?
The Tribe Of Benjamin has a significance that has yet to be appreciated. Recalling that he is the only son of Israel born in Eretz Israel, should alert us to something unique about his Tribe. His birth resulted in the death of Rachel, his and Joseph’s mother.
Joseph’s story includes the subplot by which he schemed to frame Benjamin. Planting his “divination cup” in his bags Benjamin was threatened with slavery. This was a test. What would his brothers do to gain the lad’s freedom? Judah proved himself willing to sacrifice his freedom for the boy’s. Therefore there is significance in the relationship of Judah and Benjamin.
Brother Paul, Saul of Tarsus, was indeed a Benjaminite! BUT I just got this rush: King Saul the Benjaminite did not honor the Kingship of Israel, “Is it a little thing to have the King Of Israel as father-in-law?” asked David, of King Saul.(I Sam.18: 23).
Saul had made several poor decisions as King Of Israel. None would have been detrimental in themselves, but for the fact that they were done through his office of King.
Samuel anointed Saul at the behest of The Lord. In I Samuel 10:6-8: “The spirit of YHVH will pass over you and you will prophecy with them and you will be transformed into another person. After these signs come upon you, do for yourself (to prepare for Kingship) as best you can, for Elohim is with you. Then you shall go down to Gilgal ahead of me; BEHOLD, I will go down with you to offer burnt offerings, to sacrifice peace offerings. You shall wait seven days until I come to you and I will inform you what you are to do.” But, skip to I Samuel 13:8-15:
8 He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. 9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. 10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.
Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, 12 I thought, ‘now, the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the YHVH’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”
13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the YHVH’s command.”
15 Then Samuel left Gilgal and went up to Gibeah in Benjamin, and Saul counted the men who were with him. They numbered about six hundred. (See below for symmetry.) And Samuel at 15:17: “Though you may be small in your own eyes, you are the head of the tribes of Israel, and The LORD has anointed you to be king over Israel.”
So though David asks Saul later on if having the King of Israel as father-in-law is no small thing, the question ought be: should being the King Of Israel count as a small thing?
Like ”Saint” Paul, Saul, could not overcome the temptation of compromising the word of the Lord, for “commonsense”. Saul first of all, did not await the instructions of the prophet by whose anointment he was made king. “Commonsense” told him that Samuels’s delaying would result in the loss of the battle. So he took it upon himself, to bravely set out to do battle. As an individual, or as a Judge this would be heroic; but not in a King Of Israel! And when the battle was won, despite the command to leave none alive, not even the livestock, King Agag and the best of the livestock were alive when Samuel arrived just before the end of the seven-day period.
Was Saul too merciful toward King Agag, or, was he awaiting Samuel’s word? After the fact of the battle, or, did he wish to have a client king in his power, (commonsense)? Did he preserve the best of the livestock in order to make a sacrifice of victory to YHVH or was it against commonsense to “waste” the best of livestock?
Though Saul destroyed his Kingship he was zealous in his desire to pass it to his son Jonathan. But, Jonathan was zealous for David! And Samuel finally found the One who would be the true King of Israel, that same David.
Paul, land King Saul were righteous well-meaning souls, but not sufficiently great for their roles, whether as Apostle to the gentiles or King of Israel. Both, in the ultimate analysis sought to soften and “rationalize” the Word of God. Saul, allowing Agag to live, was like Paul, allowing Sunday and the Pagan Culture of the Hellenistic World to live, to become absorbed into a new thing called “Christianity”.
BUT in humility, we must recognize that nevertheless, Saul indeed had been King of Israel, and Paul indeed had made it possible for Christianity to become global. The Globalization of Christianity allowed The Word Of God to be available to all; and for the few with ears to hear it, it contains the path beyond Saul to David, and beyond Paul to Yeshua and Solomon. Solomon built The Temple and is a type for Messiah. Jews all over the world recite without fully appreciating the full meaning of the “Blessing For Davidic Reign”. “The offspring (seed in Hebrew) of your servant David, may you speedily cause to flourish (to sprout in Heb.), and enhance his pride through your Salvation, for we hope for your salvation all day long. Blessed are You, Adenoi (YHVH in Heb.), Who causes the Pride (or Glory in Heb.) of Your Salvation to flourish.”
“Baruch ata YHVH matzmiach keren Yeshua.” “Yeshua” means Salvation!
More on Benjamin:
In Rabbinic and Talmudic Literature the ramifications of King Saul’s sparing of Agag overnight, was that Mrs. Agag was allowed one last opportunity to sleep with him. She conceived. And many, many, many generations later his descendant, Hamen, lobbied the King of Persia to allow for the total genocide of the Jews. The King was confident that the 70 years prophesied by Jeremiah had passed without any incident, thus nullifying any lingering fear of YHVH. Thus the Book Of Esther begins with a great party the King is throwing, with a description of the cloths and textiles, and golden utensils that point to those looted from Solomon’s Temple. Through a series of events Mordechai the Benjaminite finds his niece Esther as one of The Kings concubines. Together Esther and Mordechai turn the tables on Hamen and he is hanged upon the gallows he had built for Mordechai. The King reverses the plot and allows the Jews all over his empire, to arm themselves and attack their would be attackers. This is commemorated in the post-Torah holiday of Purim.
Jacob had given Joseph the special Tunic, which seemed to be part of what antagonized his other brothers. Joseph gave his full brother Benjamin many more suits of clothes than he did his other brothers from the other mothers. Jonathan, Saul’s son, a Benjaminite placed his own shield, sword and armor on David, thus sealing the fact that Judah the Royal Lineage, would be God’s apparent Hand within Israel, as Israel would be God’s Hand in the World. But, the worldly power was still to be exercised by Joseph and his sons.
Rachel’s son Benjamin is indeed like the Church of St. Paul. Or, more exactly, it will become the Tribe in which those who come out of her will come out into! Those who remain will be like the Benjaminites who refused to surrender the rapists and killers of the Concubine from Bethlehem. Raping and killing of a concubine, bride, from Bethlehem: is this not a chilling description of the Hellenization and Paganization of the Israelite Messiah? This story is found in Judges 19.
A Levite from Mount Ephraim took as wife a concubine from Bethlehem. She ran home to her father’s house. Her husband pursued after a period of four months. He rode forth with his attendant (un-named; Ruach HaKodesh?) and with a pair of donkeys. (The Donkeys sound like an echo of Saul’s going forth from his father’s house with his attendant in search of two lost donkeys! It was on this trip that Samuel noted him, and anointed him King.) He goes to cajole her and not to coerce her. After three days (three days of Jonah, three days of David hiding in the hole for to avoid Saul, three days of Yeshua in the grave: etc etc. etc.) she agrees to return with him. On the way home they stayed the night in Gibeah, a Benjaminite city eventually the home of Saul.
In a replay of Lot, and the angels in Sodom, the people of the town go full out Zombie. The man who took the travelers in tried to offer the zombie mob his own virgin daughter, like Lot. But this time, to no avail. The Zombies rape and kill the Levite’s concubine. The husband cuts her corpse into 12 pieces and sends them to all the tribes and demands vengeance.
All the people of Israel went out and assembled as one. But for some reason the other Benjaminites decide to defend their Gibeah relatives. The rest of Israel proscribes the entire house of Benjamin. After a back and forth series of battles, finally Benjamin is defeated. All but six hundred men of Benjamin were killed. (Note that the same number of men were left with Saul!) These survivors were the ones who fled to the Rock Of Rimmon where they stayed for four months! (Recall that the concubine had fled home to her father for four months, and that precipitated this entire tale!)
Judges: 21:1 “The men of Israel had taken an oath at Mizpah, saying, ‘None of us will give his daughter as a wife to Benjamin’”. But as tempers cooled they “wept in loud lament. They said, ‘Why Oh YHVH, Elohim of Israel, has this happened in Israel, that one tribe of Israel should be missing from Israel today?’” (Judges 21:2-3). In order to save Benjamin from extinction the six hundred surviving men needed wives. But all the tribes had sworn not to allow their daughters to wed them.
They determined that despite commanding all of Israel to muster, Jabesh-Gilead did not. That was grounds for war. Jabesh Gilead was destroyed but for the four hundred virgins identified and saved. That left two hundred Benjamin men without wives. They then recalled the annual holiday at Shiloh. Judges 21:21 “And see and behold if the daughters of Shiloh go out to perform the dances, you shall emerge from the vineyards and each of you grab his wife from the daughters’ of Shiloh, and go to the Land Of Benjamin”. If their fathers or brothers complain, don’t worry, we will tell them to chill, for the sake of Israel.
SO in re to the House Of Benjamin, King Saul and Saint Paul, it seems as if their role has been one of being added to and being taken from. King Saul was given his crown and lost it. Joseph gave Benjamin suits of cloths, but Jonathan gave his clothes to David the House Of Judah. The tribe of Benjamin was decimated, but then was given special allowance to take Israelite wives and thus remain or return to Israel! Saint Paul “opened” the gates of Israel to gentiles, and gave them the opportunity to see the Word. Some remnant has taken that golden opportunity of having the Word offered and saw beyond the offerer. Those who have, sought to marry into Israel with all their heart and soul, and did not sit on the Rock Of Rimmon calling it “Spiritual Israel”.
Just what was this Holy Day to YHVH that was celebrated by virgins dancing in the fields of Shiloh? Judges 11 tells of another strange occurrence. Gilead, a heroic Judge had a wife and many sons. He was of the Tribe Manasseh; the other Joseph tribe. He also had a son from a “strange” woman. The prudish translators ignore the word “Zonah”, or Harlot, and translate it as “strange”. This son, Jephthah was a mighty man of valor. His brothers scorned him as illegitimate and denied him an inheritance. But when the Ammonites made war, a mighty man was good to have. He let them make him their chief, or Judge, on condition that he will remain so when his services are no longer needed. A complicated history is recounted that seems like it could be from today’s Middle East Report.
When Israel was in the Wilderness, they were refused transit by Edom and Moab. They had to swing further east into modern Jordan. They came to Arnon, which was once controlled by Ammonites, but had been conquered by Amorites. Israel was forbidden from attacking Edom, Moab and Ammon as these were descended from Esau, and Lot respectively, but not from attacking Amorites. They defeated King Sihon and the Amorites.
Now hundreds of years later, the Ammonites claim that the territory that Israel conquered from Amorites originally was Ammonite. They demanded its return. Is this not like the parade of Empires that conquered Eretz Israel over the millennia? How dare one who lost the land to another complain when a third party takes it in return! Jephthah asks them, why did you not attempt to regain the lands in the last three hundred years, but only now? Like Hamas and Hezbollah; where were they when “the West bank” and Gaza were ruled from Istanbul, or from London, or from Amman (Ha!) or from Cairo?
Jephthah wiped the floor with them, and routed their armies. He vowed to YHVH that if victory were granted him, he would make an offering of the first thing that he sees leaving his house when he returns. Returning in victory to his home he sees his only child, his daughter, coming out with drums and dancing. He ripped his clothes in mourning. But the girl said “You have opened your mouth to YHVH—do to me according to what has come out of your mouth, since YHVH has wreaked for you against your enemies, the Children of Ammon”. But “Let this thing be done for me: Let me be for two months and I shall go wail upon the mountains and weep over my virginity, I and my friends.”
So, the virgins dancing must be the virgins celebrating the daughter of Jephthah of Gilead. And Gilead was of Manasseh the brother tribe of Ephraim, both of Joseph! So Benjamin after its massacre by the rest of Israel is revitalized by marriages with virgins of Joseph’s lineage. And Joseph’s mother, like Benjamin is Rachel.
Benjamin consists of those strangers living amongst Joseph who have been engrafted into Israel. Lost by false doctrines of Saul/Paul; but reclaimed by the Grace of Gilead. And when? Shiloh is alternatively translated as The End of Days as well as a place. “Shiloh”, as written in Daniel, “until Shiloh” is a Time.
Just as Judah was willing to sacrifice his freedom for Benjamin, so too Yeshua the son of David, of the House of Judah sacrificed his life to invite all the World into the House Of Israel. To be an Israelite one must be in a tribe. Benjamin is the empty vessel awaiting those from the nations who seek Yeshua of Israel and gain Israel of Yeshua.